Thursday, December 27, 2007
I suppose you could say, "Old rail never dies. It gets reused."
Several feet of old railroad rail, presumably salvaged from the Camino, Placerville and Lake Tahoe Railroad, were fashioned into an iron retaining wall. The wall supports the built-up roadbed around a culvert. This retaining wall won't rust away soon.
Maintenance of way crews fabricated the wall from discarded rail. Railroad mechanics were masters at reusing old materials laying around the shop. It fit their operating model to scrimp, save and repair everything without spending a dime.
I'd say this wall, when amortized over the years, this wall will cost less than a penny per year!
In October 1917, the American Railway Bridge and Building Association met in Chicago for its 27th annual convention. Among the convention topics was a discussion on the feeding and housing of railway maintenance crews.
Association president S.C. Tanner of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad told this story to highlight the need for bathing facilities to convention goers:
It reminds me of a story of a little boy whose mother sewed him up in his underclothes and sent him to school. He had been going in a steam-heated schoolroom for about a month. Finally the teacher didn't like his smell, so she sent him home with a note which said, "Give Jackie a bath and send him back." Jackie came back all right, and written across the bottom of the note the teacher had sent was scrawled, "Jackie isn't a rose—learn him—don't smell him."Fortunately, my experience falls to the positive side of the bathing equation.
As a tugboat and destroyer sailor in the 1970s, the captain always exempted the cooks and hospital corpsmen from water restrictions in the showers. The captain -- with persuasion from the ship's medical officer -- recognized the importance of hygiene for these key crewmen.
After all, smelling the food is much more pleasurable than smelling the cook!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Read the companion article on my personal blog that includes the recipe for orange cream cheese French toast.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
By Keith Berry, Vice-President
The Diamond and Caldor rebuild project is in its 14th year! Looking back, it's obvious where the years went, a perceived short term refurbishment has turned into a major recovery/rebuild project.
Removal and rebuild of major assemblies led to the reconditioning or replacement of parts, which required tools, engineering drawings and support work in pattern making casting, and machining. The truck assemblies, water tank, cab and appliance overhaul has consumed a lot of time, given we work one day a week.
Were fond of telling visitors and those monitoring our work that were "85% finished, and 50% done!" Why? Because we've reached the time for re-assembly and fitting up all the small stuff like mounting brackets, supports, more appliances, brake rigging and such, which is almost invisible but necessary to finish the project.
Recently, Steve Karoly suggested we need a pathway out of the seemingly endless procession of tasks, and we need to regain a sense of organized momentum and staying focused. During the summer, we labored over things like an oil tank lid-hinges, handles and the oil level dip stick (why do people take away all this stuff from an exhibited locomotive?).
So, when you see an oil tank in place on the locomotive, you do not see all the stuff related to installation for operation rather than just cosmetic display.
I agreed with Steve, and pondered the work remaining through visiting our photographs of the No. 4 to identify remaining parts and installations. I decided to push a timeline on these items, something realistic if we stay organized and work as a team. I decided we should attempt the following, to complete ten items in ten weeks.
10 Projects in 10 weeks
Here then are the top ten assignments, not including the on-going machine shop work by Sam Thompson, Bill Rodgers and Harold Tilton on the steam engine valves and the drive shaft rebuild.
1) Fabricate the lower ladder mounts for the rear ladder on the water/oil tanks, ready for riveting (are you reading this, Doug Youngberg?). [done]
2) Fabricate the oil tank retaining rod mounts, ready for riveting (are you still reading this Doug?).
3) Fabricate some base mounts for the new rear deck tool box, mount the tool box to the locomotive deck. [done today]
4) Fabricate new support braces for the engineer side steps, correcting an original poor design as evidenced in photos. [fabrication and painted done, waiting for installation]
5) Prep and paint new oil tank dip stick and bolt on the fireman side steam water pump on the running boards. [done]
6) Bolt down the rear sand box to locomotive deck. [holes drilled, ready to string sand tubes]
7) Locate, prep and paint drive shaft covers. [done]
8) Locate and drill water tank mounts, ready for riveting (still with us Doug?).
9) Fabricate 14 each 5/8-inch eye bolts for the safety chains on the brake beams. [projected started today, measuring and materials list completed, ready to roll and looking for December completion]
10) Locate position and drill the smoke box for the builders plates, that were cast and finished to perfection by Richard Wright in Kentucky. [on-line for next Saturday]
11) Fabricate a smoke stack cover with handle as in photos, which will serve us with steam operation.
OOPS! That is 11 items! See how this type of project goes, one project finished is replaced by another pending project, but the list needs to stay at 10 total items.
Our motto remains, "One part at a time, she goes back together," so now we need to "Get-'er-done!"
As of this date, 3 of the 10 projects are completed, and 3 more are underway. It appears several other projects will finish together on one day when we drill all future rivet holes in the water tank. Coordination of our time on Saturday is essential.
We'll provide a score card to you in mid-February. Thank you to our volunteer team for spending their time and energy on this project to serve our community in preserving the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 Shay locomotive.
Drop by some time and say hello, check out our progress.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
All I could do -- once I arrived at the engine house -- was take pictures of empty cylinders and quote lead machinist Sam Thompson.
Yesterday, by chance, I arrived in time to witness the no. 3 piston being pulled out of the engine. I say "by chance" because Keith Berry and I had another appointment in the morning.
When we walked in around noon, Sam was the only volunteer working. The only other volunteer at work had left to attend to a medical appointment. All other other volunteers took the day off.
Sam snagged Keith as we walked in to the engine house. A strong back to pull the 75-pound piston straight up out of the cylinder would only take a minute or two.
I've learned as the photographer one must act fast. It took Keith less than a minute to position his large frame on top of the engines. I would've missed the picture had I not jumped on the deck of the locomotive at ahead of him.
I lifted my camera to eye level as Keith swiftly pulled on the piston. The action occured so quickly that I only snapped four shots -- two of the extrication and two of Sam lugging the piston off to the machine shop.
Sam is now ready to install the valve shaper on the no. three engine.
Events such as this have helped me learn more about the mechanics of a steam locomotive. The engines of the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 have a 10-inch bore and 12-inch stroke. The engines are considered double acting, as steam is injected into the engine during each stroke of the piston.
Sam confirmed that steam is injected into the top of the cylinder during the downward stroke and into the bottom during the upward stroke, "hopefully not at the same time."
Saturday, December 08, 2007
For the third year, we've held the party in one of the cozy training rooms of Station 49, which is the headquarters for the Diamond Springs-El Dorado Fire Protection District. We'd like to publicly thank district board member Ed Cuhna for facilitating the use of the facilities. Ed also serves as a director on the EDWRF board.
Board member and engineering department head Harold Kiser carves the turkey for the event. Museum director Mary Cory contributed the 15-pound bird. I like the party (besides the food) because it gives me a chance to photograph those board members who don't come around the engine house on Saturdays.
Vice President Keith Berry (right) listens as Ed explains the details in an early panorama of the Diamond Springs mill and drying yard. Ed played in this same area as a young boy in the years after the mill closed.
Keith shares a lighter moment with party-goers during our annual recognition of volunteers. This photo of a Diamond and Caldor No. 4 shows a crewman holding a coffee pot in his right hand. Keith believes the trainman may be related to one of our volunteers who's always walking across the street to buy a fresh cup of coffee!
We always adjurn to pie. Since the party is held in lue of the monthly board meeting, it's only fitting that board member Bill Rodgers contributed two deep dish apple pies from Abel's Acres in Camino.
Although its scaled to one-eighth the size of a real locomotive, this Consolidation 2-8-0 steam locomotive functions in the same manner as its full-sized cousin. Owner Milon Thorley of El Dorado, California, uses coal in the firebox to produce the steam. The gauges and valves -- from the water glass and pressure gauge to the throttle and injector valves -- control the operation of the boiler and locomotive like they once did in the Consolidations that pulled freight trains.
The El Dorado and Southern No. 613, a 7-1/2-inch gauge Consolidation 2-8-0 steam locomotive, releases steam after an afternoon of running the rails at the Sacramento Valley Live Steamers in Rancho Cordova, California.
Here's head-on shot of the Consolidation. EDWRF VP Keith Berry noted that by the turn on the 19th century, these mightily locomotives were relegated to branch line operation. They were popular many industrial and short line operations.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
The eBay seller (runaboutc4c) has 20 other railroading books up for auction at this time. Titles include: This Was Logging! by Ralph W. Andrews and The Heisler Locomotive 1891 - 1941, published by Benjamin F. G. Kline, Jr.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Now two copies have appeared in the past month. About two weeks ago, a copy of El Dorado Narrow Gauge sold on an eBay auction for about $110.
This copy appeared yesterday. It has an opening bid price of $9.99 The auction closes Monday, November 26, 2007 at 5 p.m.
It's difficult to predict how high the book will go. It wouldn't surprise me if it goes for $90 or higher.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Bill Rodgers stands ready to hit the kill switch in case the cutting toll hangs up on the valve surface. His arm rests on the mag drill that powers the shaper.
Retirement is supposed to be a time of relaxation. After all, you deserve some "down time" after 45 years of labor.
We know one guy who’s just as busy as the day in 2003 when he quit repairing optical cable for AT&T. Bill Rodgers certainly believes giving back to the community is one key to a fulfilling retired life. Whether it’s giving new life to tired appliances at Snowline Hospice Thrift Store in Camino or replacing the sub-roof on the WS&CV combine car, he's ready to contribute.
Today Bill's labor brings a smile to Hospice volunteers. This "swamp cooler maintenance technician" stands ready bring a little comfort in the heat of summer.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Ultimately, the existence of the coupler, which was outlawed in the U.S. in 1893 for common carriers, caused the demise of the railroad. They were common on many logging railroads in the west.
These two rail cars came to the El Dorado Western from the defunct Westside and Cherry Valley Railway, a tourist line owned by fast food mogul Glen Bell in the late 1970s.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I found Sam hunched over the No. 2 cylinder -- his usual posture these days. As I soon discovered, he had started the laborious task of disassembling the valve shaper from the No. 2 cylinder.
I walked into the machine shop to check on Bill and Harold. Bill was machining a spacer for the middle eccentric on the drive shaft while Harold was milling one of the slip joints (and here). It was at that point that Bill told me Sam had reached a milestone. He had finished resurfacing the valve facing to No. 2 cylinder last Saturday.
So I walked over to the engine house and asked Sam about the project. Yes it was true. He completed the last course last weekend.
Sam asked me to jump in the cab. That can only mean one thing -- he need a helper to raise and lower the slide on the shaper as he disassembled it.
As we worked, I asked a few questions. Our exchange went something like this:
"What do you have to say about the No. 2?"
"Finito! No. 3 is next." Sam pointing to the "3" painted on the cylinder head. "See, I can tell. It's that one."
The machine work is done on No. 2, Sam explained. He pointed out that some handwork remains.
"How long will it take to resurface No. 3 cyliner?"
It took eight months to completely resurface No. 2 cylinder.
"I'm not finished with No. 2 yet," Sam responded. "I've got to get this thing (Sam's Rube Goldberg or valve shaper) off. I know for a fact that's not going to be easy."
For the next hour, Sam struggled to fit his hand and the Allen wrench into the confined space between the No. 2 and No. 3 cylinders. Tight work space and low light conditions have plagued him since he put the shaper to work last March.
I didn't get a prediction out of Sam. But I'm certain he can shave two months off the time it took to resurface the No. 2 cyliners.
A note: I'll post photos as soon as I can. My laptop -- that's were the images are archived -- is heading for the shop.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
From my vantage point in the kitchen, located at the north end of the engine house, we received 50 to 75 visitors between 10 a.m. and early afternoon. As with the fair, vice president Keith Berry showed our rolling stock to two potential volunteers.
In the upper photograph, Sam Thompson doesn't let a little sunshine get in the way of his most important task. Since early spring, Sam has operated the valve shaping machine on the number two cylinder. He's almost ready to move to the number three.
Board member Garrett Augustus (standing to left) discusses the locomotive with a visitor and his wife. I took the right hand photograph last week just after the foll moon.
I took advantage of the nine volunteers present this morning and cooked lunch for the crew. In honor of our locomotive's 100th year, I selected dining car recipes from two railroad cookbooks.
The old fashion navy bean soup is composite recipe from the Denver and Rio Grand Western Railroad and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. The cole slaw came from the Missouri Pacific Lines. The toasted hot Mexican sandwich was a favorite in the Santa Fe.
The recipes are posted to my personal blog at 'Round the Chuckbox.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
While we laid the first course of felt this morning, a gentleman from Amador County stopped by and offered his assistance. Mac, as it turns out, is a roofer by trade. Mac was able to advise us on the job and helped lay the second course of felt.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Yesterday, Eric Stohl, Keith Berry and I mounted the roof of the Westside and Cherry Valley Railway combine car to apply a new roof. Bill Rodgers and Jacob Karoly provided support on the ground while Sam Thompson and Harold Tilton operated the valve shaping machine inside the engine house.
In the top photograph, Eric pours the initial application of cold-ap roof adhesive while Keith prepares spread it on the roof to the cupola. We decided to use the cupola as the test patch for our roofing project. Next week we'll tackle the forward section of the roof.
Eric leans out of the cupola window as he assists Keith and Bill with the rear section of the combine car's roof. Bill and Keith worked on ladders while I took pictures.
I quickly learned that photography and roofing don't mix. After snapping my first pictures of the cupola roofing job, I had to lower the camera down to my son and concentrate on spreading adhesive and laying the felt. I'll get some picture of the finished job next week.
Crewman Bill Rogers, a local retiree who drives a tractor at one of the Apple Hill ranches, supplied the five-gallon bucket for the roofing job.
I wandered out loud: "Why is Apple Hill buying prepared apple filling? I thought its reputation was built on fresh ingredients like recently picked apples."
Bill assured me that his employer makes apple pies with fresh apples from the ranch. You know, the kind with a six-inch high crown of sliced apples that have been sweetened with sugar and cinnamon. The ranch uses sliced apple pie filling from a five-gallon bucket for turnovers.
Come to think of it, a nice slice of apple pie with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream would've hit the spot in the 90-degree heat on the roof.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Here's how Keith Berry described the restoration process last year:
Dave has been working with Sam and Dale since February 2006 to restore the male driveshaft faces to specification. Over normal locomotive operation, surface-to-surface friction from turning and the constant presence of dirt kicked up from the ballast ground the driveshaft faces down.
Sam's challenge was to locate an arbitrary starting surface point to weld/build the contact surfaces and end up with a four-sided square drive shaft. Once established, Dale welds, and Dave mills the surfaces. Then Dale welds, and Dave again mills, and around it goes. Or in this case, square it becomes! Eventually, the shaft will reach finished specification and they'll start on the next shaft.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
I expect the publish the summer issue of The Dispatch in mid-August.
I returned to work last Tuesday after a 10-day vacation to chef the kitchen at children's camp. As a result, I missed three consecutive Saturday work days at the engine house of the El Dorado Western Railway.
Skip on over to my personal blog if you're interested in the process of feeding 155 campers and staff for a week.
In the photo to the right, Keith Berry (sorry, I didn't aim the camera properly!) and I discuss the identify a two-truck, Class B Shay locomotive image on the laptop.
The photograph, which was snapped at Bear Meadow, shows the locomotive pulling a consist of 10 or more skeleton log cars south from the re-load point.
Bear Meadow is located to the north of Caldor. The California Door Company operated a mill at Caldor until 1923, when a fire destroyed the mill. After the fire, the logging company used the mill site as a camp and re-load point.
A Civilian Conservation Corps camp was located at Caldor in the late 1930s.
The railway acquired the caboose and baggage car from the West Side and Cherry Valley Railroad over a decade ago.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
The engine is about 80 to 85 percent complete. The boiler refit and re-installation of the brake system are the remaining major projects. Once the boiler refit is complete, the crew will be able to reassemble all other systems and get her ready for steaming.
Friday, June 15, 2007
And now this note to Richard Wright: Your sister and brother-in-law said hi! She promised snap a few pictures of the Four-Spot for you tomorrow when we pull her out of the engine house.
Finally, we should note that Harold Kiser was featured on page one of today's Mountain Democrat. The 83-year-old El Dorado Western Railway board member was a El Dorado Rose Escort and was treated to his first Ferris wheel ride in 50 years. Harold attended a special VIP/media night last Wednesday.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Stop by tomorrow and take a look at the Diamond & Caldor No. 4 Shay. The engine house is open from 1o a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Sunday. Bill will be there Friday morning. Keith Berry and I will be on duty tomorrow afternoon and early evening.
We have T-shirts on sale for $20, coffee mugs for $10 and train whistles for $6. Our newest T-shirt sports an image of the No. 4 number plate.
And don't forget that memberships are available for $35, $60 and $100 each (individual, family and corporate).
The fair schedule, parking and shuttle service information for the El Dorado County Fair is posted on its website. El Dorado Transit is offering free shuttle service each day from three separate parking lots to the fair entrance on Placerville Drive. Service is operated from 9:30 a.m. until midnight on Saturday. Check the schedule for Friday and Sunday. Parking is available for $5 in the fair parking lots.
Garrett Augustus (left), Dale Mace and Eric Stohl install the Sunbeam steam powered dynamo on the boiler two weeks ago.
Come see the locomotive at the El Dorado County Fair this weekend. The fair runs today through Sunday. The fair website has hours and a schedule of events. The museum is located at 104 Placerville Drive, adjacent to fairground’s Green Gate. The fair admission fee is good for the museum and engine house.
Logan's mother grabs a quick pose. Logan and his family were leaving for Disneyland right after the photograph. He had to see the locomotive before leaving for Southern California.
Eric, driving the forklift, starts the approach toward the locomotive with the oil tank.
Garrett guides Eric as he stets the oil tank on the jack stands. Initially, the oil tank rested on the jack stands so the crew could rig straps to make the final lift.
Doug worked the cab end of the oil tank. The cab, which was built to original Lima specifications, leaves little room to lower the oil tank in place. This view shows the cribbing that supports the oil tank. Keith, Eric and I measured and cut the cribbing Memorial Day weekend.
Doug and Garrett (behind forklift tower) rig the straps. The crew will then lower the oil tank into its final position.
Garrett and Keith get ready to remove the jack stands once Eric lifts the oil tank a few inches with the forklift.
This view gives you an idea of the tight quarters in the cab once the oil tank is installed.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
On Saturday, June 16, 2007, railway volunteers will pull the 100-year old logging locomotive out of the engine house and onto the "tail track" for the El Dorado County Fair.
In conjunction this year’s railroad theme at the El Dorado County Historical Museum, volunteers will dress the engine with many of the appliances that distinguished steam locomotives of the era.
Children (and adults!) will be able to ring the bell. The engine will be looking smart with the rear headlight shining out from the top of the oil tank. And the newly refurbished generator will be spotted behind the smoke stack.
Watch for the beam of light from the original Sunbeam locomotive headlight as you enter museum grounds from the fair plaza. At 1 p.m., the beacon will signal that it's time for the public to join in the birthday celebration.
The museum is located at 104 Placerville Drive, adjacent to fairground’s Green Gate. The fair admission fee is good for the museum and engine house.
April 27, 2007 marked the Diamond and Caldor No. 4's 100th birthday. It's one of three surviving Shay locomotives of the 24 that once steamed in the El Dorado County woods.
The unique reduction gear arrangement in the Shay's drive train made the engine ideal for the rough track of logging railroads. The No. 4 hauled lumber and logs along the 34-mile narrow gauge railroad between Diamond Springs and Caldor from 1907 to 1953.
The foundation is working in partnership with the County of El Dorado and the museum to educate the community about railroad logging in El Dorado County.
Friday, June 08, 2007
In the photograph, Doug peers out out the water tank filler port as Garrett prepares thread the bolts.
Sometimes you have to make things fit! Here Garrett re-bores the last two or three holes for the siphon elbow.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
We use the block and tackle to pull the engine out of the barn. The lead is connected to a pick up truck. In the photo, Logan removes the river rock from along the track.
Doug Youngberg and Garrett Augustus connect the line to the locomotive.
Keith Berry pulls the locomotive out of the engine house with his pick up.
The crew only pulled the engine out half way. During the El Dorado County Fair, we plan to pull the Diamond and Caldor No. 4 Shay geared locomotive completely out of the engine house on the morning of Saturday, June 16, 2007.